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Pilonidal Cysts Specialist

Anish Nihalani, MD, FACS

Weight Loss Physicians & General Surgeons located in Edison, NJ & Clark, NJ

Pilonidal cysts can cause considerable discomfort and outright pain. At his Edison, NJ, practice, Anish Nihalani, M.D., F.A.C.S., uses special techniques to drain and clean cysts through smaller incisions that help speed healing and reduce the size and depth of any resulting scar.

Pilonidal Cysts Q & A


What is a pilonidal cyst?

A pilonidal cyst is an abnormal sac or cavity that forms in the skin and contains fluids, pus, hair and other debris. Pilonidal cysts almost always form near the base of the spine at the tailbone or coccyx, and they occur more commonly among people who sit for very long periods of time, like long-distance truck drivers and delivery drivers, and among young people, especially males. A pilonidal cyst resembles a large pimple, forming just at the cleft of the buttocks where the buttocks meet the lower back. Researchers think some pilonidal cysts form as a result of an infected ingrown hair or following an injury or repeated “jarring” to the tailbone region; others have no specific or readily identifiable cause.

What symptoms are associated with pilonidal cysts?

Pilonidal cysts can vary in size, with more severe symptoms being associated most commonly with larger abscesses. Cysts appear red and swollen and can be associated with significant pain and tenderness, especially when sitting. Some cysts are associated with the leakage of foul-smelling pus, and more serious infections can cause fever.

How are pilonidal cysts treated?

Pilonidal cysts must be drained and cleaned of hair and other debris. Once the cyst is drained, the skin surrounding the cavity must be closed using sutures or surgical staples. Cyst treatment can be performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthetics to numb the area combined with sedatives to help the patient relax. Often, a cyst can be treated using a special surgical technique designed to minimize the size and depth of the cavity to avoid the need to repeatedly repack the site with gauze during healing. In cases where the infection is severe, the wound may be left open and packed with surgical gauze to enable the area to heal completely. The technique used will depend on the size of the cyst and the extent of any underlying infection.